Skier killed in Mount Washington avalanche

He was found about a meter beneath the surface, officials said.

Mount Washington is seen at dawn from North Conway, New Hampshire.
In this March 13, 2015, photo, Mount Washington is seen at dawn from North Conway, New Hampshire. –Robert F. Bukaty / AP, File

A man was killed Thursday in an avalanche on Mount Washington near Tuckerman Ravine, according to a U.S. Forest Service official.

Evan Burks, public affairs officer for the White Mountains National Forest, told Boston.com it is believed that the incident was a human-triggered avalanche in the Raymond Cataract area.

Snow rangers first received the report around 1:30 p.m., he said.

“They responded, (and) they saw one set of ski tracks going into the debris field and no ski tracks exiting,” Burks said Friday. “They activated a beacon search (and) located one beacon. They began digging, and, about 2:20 pm, they had the victim unburied.”

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According to Burks, the man was discovered about one meter under the surface. The avalanche was about 75 feet wide, he said.

In a video posted to Instagram, officials said the man was breathing when he was found, but soon suffered cardiac arrest. They believe he was buried for between one-and-a-half and two hours.

Crews rushed the victim down the mountain to a waiting medical helicopter and performed CPR while on the way, Burks said.

The man was pronounced dead around 4 p.m., according to Burks. His identity has been withheld as officials notify next of kin.

Snow rangers believe the man was skiing alone, Burks said. Other reports in the area said people saw one person skiing by himself on Thursday, he said.

“(Rangers) went back and did a secondary search to see if there were any other beacons or anything like that … and they didn’t locate anything,” he said.

According to Burks, the Mount Washington Avalanche Center forecasted “moderate” avalanche conditions on Thursday.

Although the winter is over, those conditions mean there is still strong potential for human-triggered avalanches on the trails, Burks said. He advised that skiers should check the forecast to know how to stay safe.

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“Just because it’s springtime doesn’t mean the hazard of avalanches doesn’t exist,” he said. “There’s still very much a possibility out there, so people should be prepared for conditions.”